Lincoln coach hopes to change program’s culture

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Warren Weekly | Published May 1, 2013

WARREN — The Warren Lincoln baseball program hasn’t won a division or district title since 1968.

The Abes haven’t finished above .500 in league play since 2009 and haven’t finished at .500 overall since 2007.

Lincoln’s 16 wins in the 2005 season are the most for the Abes over the last decade.

Abes coach Darin Grzywacz is trying to change the fortunes of the Lincoln program. In his second year as Abes coach, Grzywacz said his team just wants to win.

“These guys are a great group of kids who want to play and win and will do whatever it takes,” said Grzywacz, whose team sat at 1-4 overall and 1-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division at press time.

Lincoln scored its first win in a 5-1 victory against Madison Heights Madison April 22. The Abes suffered a 5-4 loss to MAC Bronze foe New Haven April 15. Just two days later, Lincoln had a 4-3 lead on New Haven before that game was called because of rain.

“I felt we needed to get that win over Madison under our belt. I told our guys we could technically be 2-1 in the division, which isn’t bad considering we only won three games all of last year,” Grzywacz said.

Grzywacz said 2013 could be a bounceback year for the Abes if they play error-free baseball. The coach said he feels his squad gets tense on gameday, which causes the Abes to make careless mistakes.

“I want them to play games like they practice — loose and having fun,” Grzywacz said. “Baseball is a fun game and is meant to be played that way.”

Senior pitcher/shortstop Brad Freeman and junior pitcher/third baseman Mitchell Blanchard lead the squad, according to the coach. He said Freeman and Blanchard work hard at every practice.

“(Freeman) is always trying to get more groundballs to make himself better,” Grzywacz said. “(Blanchard) is our ace on the mound and always wants the ball in his hands, and it’s hard to keep him off the mound.”

Other players Grzywacz highlighted include junior catcher/center fielder Blake Edwards, senior first/third baseman B.J. Brinkey, senior third baseman/outfielder Brandon Cusick and sophomore pitcher/second baseman Brandon Hingle.

Grzywacz said he believes the Abes should be able to score a lot of runs, as he feels the top six or seven batters in the lineup are solid and give the Abes’ pitchers run support.

“(Blanchard and Hingle) are our aces on the mound,” Grzywacz said. “If we can manage our rotation to pitch them in league games, we should be fine.”

Grzywacz said he feels the Bronze title is up for grabs. St. Clair Shores South Lake won it last season.

“I keep telling the kids that we’re as good or better than any of the teams in our division, and the division is ours for the taking if they do the little things right,” Grzywacz said. “We’re going to keep plugging away and do what we’re doing and try to make the Abes one of the better teams in Macomb County.”

Lincoln next hits the field against Clinton Township Clintondale at 4:30 p.m. May 1 at home.